Microsoft Unveils New Vision for Worldwide Network Of Microsoft’s Industry Partners

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 9, 2003 — Microsoft Corp. today unveiled its strategy for delivering new value and benefits to its worldwide network of industry partners. The Microsoft®
Partner Program, announced at the inaugural Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, is a new vision for partner success delivered in a partner-centric approach that will enable partners to expand their businesses in the technology solution area that their customers need.

The new Microsoft program was designed from a partner’s point of view to deliver a revolutionary approach to partnering in an evolutionary way. The program recognizes the present investment and contribution of industry partners while establishing a framework for the future. This will enable partners to deliver against the full spectrum of customers’ needs while being more agile in an ever-changing marketplace, ushering in a new era of partner relationships.

“As we announce this new program today, every decision we’ve made has been critically measured against what we have heard from our partners and customers,” said Allison Watson, vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft. “Our goal is to bring true innovation in partnering to complement Microsoft’s technical and marketing innovation, enabling partners to capitalize on new opportunities and bring real business value to customers. We will do this by building the best-in-class industry partner program, one that facilitates strong relationships and generates results for our partners.”

The program is the first comprehensive new direction for Microsoft’s partner programs since the launch of the Solution Provider program in 1993. Development of the new program began in August 2002 and took into account more than 50 global focus groups, surveys, collaboration with every Microsoft business group, and thousands of individual discussions with partners. The new Microsoft Partner Program will launch officially in January 2004 and will deliver increased benefits and value to industry partners over the course of the next 18 months.

“I’m quite pleased to see that Microsoft has designed a program that meets the demands of today’s channel,” said Teri Green, director of national partner alliances with BORN, a national information technology (IT) consulting firm that offers a broad portfolio of technology and business solutions. “They are providing clear and valuable leadership and direction by creating a program focused on partner needs rather than rigid program requirements. The new program approaches everything from what’s best for the customer, which helps us provide more value to our customers. Microsoft has always been an excellent business partner, and with this new program they’re going to be even better. I fully expect this program to raise the bar throughout the industry.”

The new program gives partners the flexibility to remain generalized but also encourages specialization for those partners that wish to highlight their unique skill set in the marketplace. Microsoft’s new partner program also takes an integrated approach to delivering resources to enable partners to deliver against their full range of solutions.

The new program will recognize partner impact in a holistic approach that measures partners’ skills and customer satisfaction and influence, as well as sales volume and technical certifications. As a result, partners will receive greater value from their relationship with Microsoft through tailored benefits that will help them with business development, communication and marketing, and increased product support and training.

The new program also offers industry partners a simplified, centralized way to engage with Microsoft and provides the tools and resources they need to thrive in the market. The program delivers new value for customers by helping them choose the industry partner that best meets their needs, with 11 specialization areas to help identify industry partners’ areas of expertise.

“The new program really hits on key business drivers,” said Andy Vabulas, CEO of I.B.I.S. Inc., a solutions provider based in Norcross, Ga. Vabulas said that the simplification of the program will allow his business to better serve its customers. “It aligns our skills and our ability to be successful with clients in a way that Microsoft and the market will recognize. And, by streamlining different programs, Microsoft’s partner brands such as Certified and Gold Certified will have more meaning, allowing our customers to recognize who’s who. I really like what they’ve done.”

Microsoft believes the new partner program brings in a new era of partnering that will enable industry partners to achieve maximum success in an ever-evolving, increasingly complex marketplace. With customer demand for increased return on investment, IT investments under scrutiny, and increased competition, Microsoft believes it is critical for industry partners to deliver deep and specialized solutions demonstrating their ability to provide consulting related to business processes as well as a deepened level of technical expertise. With industry-leading innovation in technology, marketing and partnering, Microsoft believes the company’s industry partners are uniquely positioned to capitalize on new opportunity and customer demand.

About the Microsoft Partner Program

Microsoft Partner Program is a new, innovative, partner-centric program designed to respond to partners’ and customers’ needs. The program provides flexibility and focus based on partners’ core businesses and recognizes the full range of partner impact to deliver IT value to customers.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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